It's Monday!

>> April 22, 2012

Washington Valley:  Imagine a weekend to yourself.  Nine hours of sleep for two nights in a row, reading a 500 page book, lounging, running, spending the afternoon relaxing with a friend (enjoying a spring afternoon), watching the Yankees beat the Red Sox .... can you imagine anything better than this?

This was how I spent my weekend!

I felt so rested each morning.  I'm not sure if it's because the world traveler was on a business trip and I went to bed at ten each night or if my new pillow is the reason for a restful sleep.  I don't sleep well (combo of my insomnia and the World Traveler's sleep talking)... and since moving to the country I'm even a lighter sleeper.  I have become noise and light sensitive - and I toss/turn (I'm sure most of this is due to my broken left side)... I'm hoping the pillow helps.

What I'm reading (hosted by Book Journey): I finished Purge, Home Front and read Fifty Shades of Grey. Yep you read that right!

A friend sent me a cartoon about the book, and mentioned she read it, that the writing is horrible and some scenes pushed the line but it was a fun read.

A trip to Costco brought me face to face with the trilogy.  With VERY low expectations I decided to buy it after hearing that the movie rights were bought for $5 million.  WOW... review to follow, I need to think about how to write about this one. :)

Have you read it?  Who would you cast to play Ava and Christian?

On the iPad:  Keeping with the theme of light chick-lit, I'm going to start Skinning Dipping this week.  I'm a fan of Bethenny Frankel, discovering her on Martha Stewart version of Apprentice years ago.

Synopsis:  Faith is an aspiring actress just out of college, who moves to L.A. determined to have it all—a job on the most popular TV show, a beach house in Malibu, and a gorgeous producer boyfriend. But when reality hits, she finds herself with a gig as a glorified servant, a role that has more to do with T&A than acting, and a dead-end relationship. Finally, Faith decides she’s had enough of La La Land and moves back to New York with just a suitcase and her dog, Muffin.

Five years later, Faith has finally found her groove as an entrepreneur and manages to land a spot on a new reality TV show hosted by her idol—the legendary businesswoman and domestic goddess Sybil Hunter. Diving into the bizarre world of reality TV, Faith’s loud mouth and tell-it-like-it-is style immediately get her in trouble with her fellow contestants—the delusional socialite; the boozy lifestyle coach; the moody headband designer; and her closest friend, the ambitious housewife who eventually betrays her. Even Sybil is not what she appears.

As the show comes to a dramatic close, Faith discovers that the man of her dreams may have just walked into her life. Will she choose fame or love? Or can she have it all?

What are you reading this week?

Review: The Lost Daughter

>> April 19, 2012

Why I picked it: I picked this book up a few weeks ago, while shopping at Costco. 

The cover is stunning and reading Wally Lamb's endorsement led to my purchasing a copy of the book.

Synopsis: Brooke O'Connor—elegant, self-possessed, and kind—has a happy marriage and a deeply loved young daughter. So her adamant refusal to have a second child confounds her husband, Sean. When Brooke's high school boyfriend Alex—now divorced and mourning the death of his young son—unexpectedly resurfaces, Sean begins to suspect an affair.

For fifteen years Brooke has kept a shameful secret from everyone she loves. Only Alex knows the truth that drove them apart. His reappearance now threatens the life she has so carefully constructed and fortified by denial. With her marriage—and her emotional equilibrium—at stake, Brooke must confront what she has been unwilling to face for so long.

Type: Fiction

Quick Take: I dare you to read chapter one and put this book down.  I can't see anyone doing it! 

This novel starts with two teenagers in a hotel room, the girl is in labor.  It's a gut wrenching start to the book.  Fast forward fifteen years, Brooke is happily married, life seems good but she has a secret. Beautiful set up, how can the author go wrong?

Well, it's gets better... her high school boyfriend shows up (out of the blue) and confesses that the baby delivered all those years ago was breathing and left for dead, in a dumpster!  This is how the story begins...

This is a great book club selection - there's so much to discuss just from what I have mentioned above but there's so much more to the story. 

Have you read it? I'm happy to say I picked this book for the Omaha Bookworm's (July), we will have a fantastic discussion... I can't wait.  Find a copy and read it!

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Personal Copy

Life: it's happening

>> April 18, 2012

What's going on in Washington Valley?  In addition to the daily grind, we have had a steady stream of company, and I was on a mini holiday last weekend.  Things I want to treasure and limit time with my laptop.

Book blogging: Not having time to sit and enjoy I held off reading my google reader for almost a week.  What did I notice?  Most of us blog 2-3 times a week.  There are a few that blog 5+ and two bloggers with over 10 posts in six days (you know who you are).  If you don't comment, people forget about you quickly... a blogger can quietly go away without farewell, which is kind of sad. It's like moving away without telling anyone.  One day your there, the next your not. This is when it's important to answer this question: why do I blog, and for whom do I blog?

Let's talk about last weekend... when I wasn't exploring NYC and running in Central Park, I attended parts of the Oxford North American Reunion.  Spending a weekend with highly successful and uber smart people makes me want to refocus.  I have been dancing around a few interests but now I am ready to dive in:

Charity: Back in 2011 I had a plan, one that fell to the side quickly due to life getting in the way. 

I'm not looking to write a check and move on, I'm looking for something to be passionate about. I have reached out to grassroot type organizations to learn more about their mission and goals, hoping to volunteer and/or make a donation, but I tend to walk away feeling that they are not really looking for help.

Last week I had a wonderful discussion with someone who taught me about grassroot organizations, specifically the questions to ask before donating/getting involved.

To generalize... many people who start/run these small but impactful organizations do it for personal reasons.  Usually they have overcome a dire situation and asking for help is something they can't/won't do.  They feel they have overcome obstacles and want to help others learn to succeed.  This is why they remain small and hopefully impactful.

This helped me understand why something I thought would workout didn't and more importantly, it's helped me realize that it's okay.  So I'm still searching for a good fit, something that my entire family can embrace and become compassionate towards.  Do you have any ideas? Suggestions? 

Life Coach: Do you have one? Have you used one?  I met a gal I connected with last weekend.  At dinner she asked me to give her three adjectives that I think others would use to describe me.  After a discussion to clarify I now have my three adjectives. Now I'm supposed to make decisions with them.  So next time life leans towards chaotic I will ask myself if I'm making a decision that's in alignment with my three adjectives. 

We are also exploring what I want to do with my second life (life after my career), passions, etc... I need to build a path so I'm ready when the time comes.  What do you want to do? What's needed to get there...

Running: This week I ran my first five miler, on my favorite trail!  I'm happy to say I'm painfree (and slow as molasses) but still have a long way to go according to my team (Chiro, PT, DR).

This weekend: I am planning to dedicate time this weekend to 'all things blogging', from writing reviews, researching potential book club selections, reading, and more...  I'm looking forward to having time.  I think I'm going to add a column back into the blog... I didn't realize how much I reference things, look for reviews, goodreads, etc... so watch for a subtle change over the next few days.

Lastly, I will close with a book I can't wait to read!  I found this by accident, while marking that I'm reading another title by the author. Spin and Arranged are new releases in the US so you can imagine my surprise to discover a third novel that releases in Canada on May 1... I wonder how long I have to wait to read this one! 

Forgotten: When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain?

How are you balancing all life has to offer?  Are you a planner or do you take life one day at a time?

It's Monday!

>> April 15, 2012

Washington Valley: Every once in a while life gets in the way of my aspirations to sit, write... blog.  It seems to be happening more often these days. 

Here's an example of life getting in the way *smile*: I have settled into my new role at work, just in time to take on another job for the next five months. Someone on my team is having a baby this week, she supports our business in Latin/South America.

This weekend deserves a post of it's own but here are the highlights: weekend in NYC at the Waldorf Astoria, spa, shopping, running in central park, dinner at Cipriani's, seminar with Nicholas Kristoff, Frances Ashcroft, a tour of the Met, and a lot of coffee. It was a wonderful weekend, with no laptop!

What I'm reading (hosted by Book Journey): Will you believe me if I tell you I haven't finished Home Front yet?  I left my iPod at home by accident and I have only two hours left!  I hope the ending is amazing since I'm not loving this one (a very important story but it's a long drawn out bummer of a book).

I read only twenty pages over the last two weeks... so I'm still reading Purge.  I hope to find time this week to curl up on the sofa and read for an hour or two.

I tend not to talk about many of the books I read which are either for work or lifestyle exploration (personal growth, volunteering, etc..).  This weekend I was fortunate to listen to the two author's discuss their books and I can't wait to read them:

Half the Sky: This is a book I have wanted to read for almost two years.  It's an important book, a 'how to' with inspiring stories.  

After a discussion I had last Friday night, I know more about the people who run grassroot organizations, their strengths and weaknesses.  Books like this are helping me find the right fit. Education is important.

Synopsis: A passionate call to arms against the oppression of women around the globe-"the central moral challenge" of our time. Through inspiring stories of extraordinary women, the most effective way to fight global poverty is to unleash the potential of women. They also offer an uplifting do-it-yourself tool kit for those who want to help.

Life at the Extremes: I enjoy adventure so you can only imagine how excited I am to read this book. It begins with a story of climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and the extremes our bodies go through. 

Synopsis: The challenge of scaling the highest mountain, exploring the deepest ocean, crossing the hottest desert, or swimming in near-freezing water is irresistible to many people. Life at the Extremes is an engrossing exploration of what happens to our bodies in these seemingly uninhabitable environments. Frances Ashcroft weaves stories of extraordinary feats of endurance with historical material and the latest scientific findings as she investigates the limits of human survival and the remarkable adaptations that enable us to withstand extreme conditions.

What are you reading this week?

Happy Friday!

>> April 13, 2012

Where did the week go?  I had the best of intentions to post a few book reviews this week... I have about ten books to choose from but haven't had a minute to sit and write the darn things!

Company arrived Wednesday and this morning I'm off for a secret mini vacation!  I can't wait to tell you all about it next week. 

Reading: I haven't found a minute to read or listen all week but... I'm hoping to read Purge and finish Home Front over the weekend.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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